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Dreams and realities of school tracking and vocational education

Author

Listed:
  • Mahmut Ozer

    (Ministry of National Education)

  • Matjaž Perc

    (University of Maribor
    Complexity Science Hub Vienna
    China Medical University)

Abstract

School tracking has been introduced as a means to provide skills the labor market demands, and as such has been in place for several decades in most Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. The time is thus ripe for a critical review of the effects this has had on the equalities in education and opportunities later in life, and on the quality of vocational education in general. A synthesis of the existing literature reveals gaping holes between the dreams of superior vocational education and training that educational tracking ought to deliver, and the realities of lost opportunities and facilitated inequalities, especially in students with poor socioeconomic background, weak social capital, and sparse social networks. This is all the more true the sooner educational tracking comes into effect. While most OECD countries will start tracking students aged 15 or 16, some countries, such as Germany, will start doing this as early as age 10. Our review shows that this can have catastrophic consequences for students that for various reasons perform poorly early on, as they are indeed unable to recover due to the Matthew effect and preferential attachment in social networks, both of which punish false starts in life and reward first movers. To remedy the situation, we propose educational tracking be held off until later in life, and even then be undertaken with flexibility and late bloomers in mind. We also propose to restructure vocational education by decreasing the degree of curriculum differentiation, by allowing broader vocational education curricula, and by decreasing the number of training occupations in order to account for the changing labor market dynamics.

Suggested Citation

  • Mahmut Ozer & Matjaž Perc, 2020. "Dreams and realities of school tracking and vocational education," Palgrave Communications, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 6(1), pages 1-7, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:pal:palcom:v:6:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1057_s41599-020-0409-4
    DOI: 10.1057/s41599-020-0409-4
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    References listed on IDEAS

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